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Lena Latin Grill....certainly my favored spot for coffee BEST ESPRESSO

jonkyo Apr 17, 2012 10:04 AM

Surprisingly, on 35th Street between 5th and 6th, opposite some Korean BBQ, and just minutes from several Starbucks is one of the best places for coffee in Manhattan.

Lena Latin Grill coffee, both brewed and espresso, is Colombian, as is the owner (s?).

The espresso at Lena Latin Grill has a flavor that is a cut above the typical Italian roast (Illy; Lavazza) due to a more balanced and nuanced flavor that extends over more of the palate, yet retaining the bite one expects from good espresso.

The regular roast and brewed coffee on offer at Lena Latin Grill is quite exceptional as well, when compared with what most people in NYC drink.

The atmosphere is quite nice, and the food, as far as I can tell from the menu, is great.

For coffee lovers there are pastries and breaded type items that may accompany the coffee, and the menu has everything from plate dishes of meats that are of organic fed animals, that can be offered also as sandwiches, wraps or over salads. Latin sauces and sides on offer as well.

  1. f
    foodwhisperer Apr 17, 2012 04:15 PM

    I will certainly try the espresso at Lena Latin Grill. I usually drink illy at home, or a special blend of colombian for my Jura espresso machine.That machine doesnt recommend the real dark shiny beans, so I use the illy for a good cup. From what you are saying, Lena 's espresso must be amazing. I will check it out. I did have a good espresso on the LES at the Roasting Plant.

    1. Peter Cuce Apr 17, 2012 05:55 PM

      There's a huge, thriving, growing coffee culture in NYC that you seem to not know about. I haven't tried Lena Latin Grill's coffee, although I intend to, but I'm guessing you enjoy old school Italian style espresso judging from what you wrote above. That's not a style I enjoy much, but there are many places to enjoy great espresso in a variety of styles these days in New York City, many of which roast their own coffee in the city or nearby.

      16 Replies
      1. re: Peter Cuce
        jonkyo Apr 18, 2012 06:54 PM

        Thanks, I shall look into the " thriving, growing coffee culture in NYC".

        I am a bit lazy here in my coffee adventures, and usually find alternatives to the Starbucks and and other paper cup venues due to stumbling upon them.

        I tend more for something that goes a bit beyond the old school Italian espresso. Not too into Illy.

        "there are many places to enjoy great espresso in a variety of styles these days in New York City, many of which roast their own coffee in the city or nearby." Thanks, I shall scout them out.

        1. re: jonkyo
          Peter Cuce Apr 19, 2012 01:36 PM

          Check my Tumblr on my profile and the Twitter linked therein for suggestions. I'm happy to recommend some places to start. Do you have any preferred neighborhoods?

          1. re: Peter Cuce
            jonkyo Apr 19, 2012 01:47 PM

            Area is not important, for I do think quality reigns over region,thus said, often areas might define the market and what shops pop up.

            I will check you Tumblr. Thanks

            1. re: jonkyo
              Peter Cuce Apr 19, 2012 02:13 PM

              Just trying to narrow it down for some places to start with.

              1. re: Peter Cuce
                jonkyo Apr 19, 2012 02:26 PM

                I am not too keen on 9th Ave, but I am very fond of Cup Cake Cafe.

                The espresso is always good, as is the atmosphere, and wondering your take on that.

                I am a seasoned coffee lover though as of late am not as picky as I used to be.

                I love some of the roasts at D'Amico's in Brooklyn on Court, and wish they had some representation of their roasts in cafes in Manhattan.

                A friend introduced me some years ago to 71 Irving Place roaster cafe. Was told the roasting is done by the owners in an Upstate facility. Not impressed at all, still.

                Have been to and like very much Bowery Cafe.

                Various cafes on the East Side I find too pretentiously bohemian, with non-bohemian clientele.

                Not impressed with Oren's Daily Roast, but some places up Lexington may have promise.

                1. re: jonkyo
                  Simon Apr 22, 2012 07:19 PM

                  i agree that the coffee at 71 Irving is unimpressive...very often lately it's so sour that i find it undrinkable...when i mentioned it to the staff, i was told: "Yes, it's a really fruity roast!"...

                  i'm no expert, but i like the organic brewed coffee at the Argo Teahouse on University Place...and at Joe's on 13th St...and at Birch Coffee on 27th...

            2. re: Peter Cuce
              michelleats Apr 19, 2012 06:20 PM

              any places you like in the WV, peter?

              1. re: michelleats
                Peter Cuce Apr 21, 2012 05:10 PM

                Hi Michelle
                The West Village is somewhat under-represented in terms of good coffee, although there are a fair number of cafes overall. The only one I'd go out of my way for is Joe the Art of Coffee on the corner of Waverly & Gay. They serve Ecco Caffe, roasted in Santa Rosa, California. The Think Coffee branch on 8th Ave near the intersection of Greenwich Ave has poor espresso, but offers decent pour overs (single serve drip coffee) from a rotating group of coffee roasters. One they feature often is Plowshares, roasted in upstate New York.
                A little further afield you could visit Ninth Street Espresso in Chelsea Market, making usually well-crafted drinks using Dallis Bros beans roasted in Queens, and Blue Bottle Coffee in Milk Studios on far West 15th Street, using coffee they roast themselves in Williamsburg. This shop features the only siphon bar in New York City and also a full roster of espresso drinks.

                1. re: Peter Cuce
                  michelleats Apr 21, 2012 07:40 PM


                  1. re: Peter Cuce
                    jonkyo Apr 25, 2012 05:15 PM

                    Ninth Street Espresso....I may have been there. I certainly visit Joe the Art of Coffee.

                    It has always been difficult to truly dig into any coffee cafe culture in NYC, and this is due simply to America itself. The nature of coffee drinking in America stems much from the absorption of coffee markets into very mono-cultures of high revenue high volume cafe chains styled after the McDondalds and Pepsico (before) Pizza Hut/ Taco Bell phenomena. The alternatives are boutique type venues that sometimes, but not always, tend to be a bit pretentious.

                    It is unfortunate state, so my expectations are lowered here, and find home brewing is perhaps where the best cup can be found. That's just me.

                    None the less, your suggestions are great and quality based, thank you.

                    1. re: jonkyo
                      Peter Cuce Apr 25, 2012 05:50 PM

                      I'm curious though. Attitude of staff aside, you thought Lena Latin Grill had the best espresso you've had in NYC?

                      1. re: Peter Cuce
                        jonkyo Apr 26, 2012 06:45 PM

                        to quote my text above: "The espresso at Lena Latin Grill has a flavor that is a cut above the typical Italian roast (Illy; Lavazza) due to a more balanced and nuanced flavor that extends over more of the palate, yet retaining the bite one expects from good espresso."

                        Best cup ever, no, but thanks for asking.

                        I was just enthused at the delight of having a bit of some different taste, and found it nice. I have been back there a few times for the same.

                        1. re: jonkyo
                          squid kun Apr 27, 2012 12:39 PM

                          Your thread title did raise the question.

                          1. re: squid kun
                            jonkyo Apr 28, 2012 01:33 PM

                            Best on the block!

                            I recommend their steak. Very tasty. Not exactly up market steak house, but for the price it is quite good.

                            1. re: Peter Cuce
                              jonkyo May 24, 2012 06:50 PM

                              I was few weeks ago down at Boqueria Tapas, their Spring Street store, and found their espresso very good.

                              The Coffee Shop have not been to in years, if not more than a decade. I can't comment at all.

                              Lina's has many happy customers, and their food is quite good, for a plate of grilled beef and grilled vegetables. All goes good with their coffee, and of course, their espresso, the double costing 2 dollars less than Boqueria's.

                              Rocco's espresso on Bleeker is so so, but nice sweets.

                              1. re: jonkyo
                                foodwhisperer May 24, 2012 10:34 PM

                                Speaking of Spring St. I like Ceci Cela espresso and latte, and i love their pastries.
                                Roasting Plant Coffee Co. on Orchard St, has good espresso

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